Blaming the Left parties for being unpatriotic, historian Ramchandra Guha today said there is a need to redefine patriotism that goes beyond being deferential to the government of the day and should also criticise the army objectively.
"Patriotism does not mean allegiance to the government of the time. A patriot should, objectively and fairly, criticise the army which is now a taboo in our country," he said speaking at the Mumbai LitFest here.
"No one can be a true nationalist who is incapable of feeling truly ashamed if her or his state, or the government commits crimes including those against their fellow citizens. No one can be a true nationalist who doesn't have a sense of shame," the historian said.
Stating that a nation is a work in progress with its share of flaws, Guha, the author of books like 'India After Gandhi', squarely blamed the Left parties for ceding space to the right wing when it comes to patriotism.
"I chastise the Left for being anti-patriotic. We must cultivate a love of our country," he said, adding this has led the "reactionary, medieval and bigoted" RSS to gain ground.
He said our country lacks a right-wing intellectual tradition, unlike the times of Margaret Thatcher in Britain or Ronald Regan in the US.
"India lacks largely because the RSS colonises the right- wing space. And if the Left is unpatriotic, the RSS is comprehensively anti-intellectual," he said.
Guha said the BJP is likely to be in power for longer than its current five years as it is the dominant political force today but flagged concerns on the education front.
"If a right-wing government is in power, I would like the educational curriculum to be decided by thinkers and not by bigots," he said, adding the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had a very good education minister.